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Hot Topics Archives 2011

December 2011

Race to the Top grant boosts early learningthegde

A federal grant awarded Dec. 16 provides Eastern North Carolina with a chance to increase and improve educational opportunities for young children, according to a faculty member in the ECU School of Human Ecology. North Carolina is one of nine states to earn the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant. East Carolina University School of Human Ecology professor Archana Hegde said the investment in early childhood development will lead to more children who are ready for kindergarten. ECU's role will be in training and supporting early learning educators. Read more....

America leaves Iraq – what next?roshandel1

The United States has declared the war in Iraq officially over (read more in New York Times ) and American troops are expected to return home by the year’s end. What's next for Iraq? ECU political science professor Jalil Roshandel, an expert on Iraq and the Persian Gulf, said that oil is the “present, past and future of Iraq…something they can build their future upon.” Roshandel spoke to ECU News Services about the implications of America’s withdrawal from the country on the nation and its people.

He provided the following quotes for media use:

What is the general feeling in Iraq about the American withdrawal?

“There are two distinct feelings. First, after almost nine years of occupation, what Iraqis see today is a ravaged, partially destroyed and unhealthy community that is back on its own. It may be more vulnerable to insurgency and external influence of neighboring states like Iran, but it is back on its own footing. The second feeling is uncertainty for the future. Americans left, but has the war ended? Nobody has an answer.”

What does the end of the Iraq War mean for that nation?

“Sectarian politics can return easily. Cleavage between Iraq’s three main factions, Sunni minority, Shiite majority and the Kurds can perpetuate the conflict for years to come, however, cooperation between them can contribute to regional peace and sustainable development isuing Iraqi stable oil revenues. At this point there are no strong signs of cooperation and the most immediate strategic concerns are exacerbated by economic crisis.

“Already the Iraqi government has entered into a confrontational mood with the Kurdish local government on a recent deal Exxon Mobile and the Kurdistan provincial government have signed on oil… and when it comes to oil, it’s the present, past and the future of Iraq. It is the blood that is running in every Iraqi’s artery and definitely something they can build their future upon. Currently Iraq is producing 2,700 million barrels per day, but it is expected to increase upto 13,000 in five years.”

How will the American withdrawal from Iraq affect the security of the Middle East?  
“A rich Iraq will contribute to the prosperity and security of its own nation and the larger Middle East. However it has the potential of returning to some sort of regional Cold War and attempt to create a balance of power with other states in the region. Though it is hard to predict, all depends on which way the Iraqi current and future leaders will decide to go.

“The United States will probably remain a major power influencing the path of future trends and politics in Iran, but as long as the Iranian Islamic Republic stays also influential in the region, chances are that Iraq will take a more hostile direction toward Israel. If that happens the security configuration of the volatile Middle East will be negatively impacted.”

For more information, contact Roshandel.

Proposed cell phone banshraderj

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday voted to recommend a ban on the use of all mobile devices while driving, including hands-free devices. They cited the dangers of distracted driving, particularly among drivers aged 20 - 24. Health Education and Promotion professor Dr. Joe S. Shrader is director of ECU's driver education certificate program. He can speak on the mental attention required for effective driving.  Contact Shrader.  Visit the NTSB for more details about the recommendation.   Download NTBS Fact Sheet about the recommendation (pdf format)

Crime in the neighborhoodmorris

ECU criminal justice professor Dr. Patrice Morris is an expert on homicide, neighborhood crime and police effectiveness, and special populations in the criminal justice system. Increasing neighborhood crime in Greenville has led to the development of a new police task force to address the gang-related crimes in the area, including neighborhoods near the university. Greenville police chief William Anderson held the first meeting of the new task force on Dec. 7. Read the Daily Reflector story about the crime task force.  Read staff feature about Morris and her research interests.  Contact Morris.

November 2011

Sexual abuse in athleticsLyndon-Amy_1

Sexual abuse allegations against a former Penn State assistant football coach have led to more careful examination of abuse and sexual assault potential within athletic programs at both the university and high school level. ECU psychology professor Dr. Amy Lyndon is an expert on coaches' roles and perceptions related to sexual assault and abuse. She has co-authored an article which suggests that coaches may minimize the problems related to sexual abuse and/or resist methods to prevent sexual aggression within their athletic programs. Contact Lyndon.  Read the article abstract.

Bargains on Black FridayTracyTuten

More quickly than the Thanksgiving Day turkey can be transformed into turkey casserole, shoppers will head out for the annual Black Friday retails sales event Nov. 25, when retailers slash prices and open their stores before dawn to crank up their holiday sales. ECU professor Tracey Tuten, College of Business, is an expert on marketing, gift-giving and consumer behavior. She can speak on the behaviors and strategies that drive events like Black Friday. Contact Tuten.

Sing for health, happinesshairston

With the holidays fast approaching, people seeking health and happiness might consider joining a seasonal choir. Research indicates that people who sing in choirs are happier, more productive and healthier. ECU professor Michelle Hairston, chair of the ECU departments of music education and music therapy, was interviewed on Public Radio East for the DownEast Journal about the positive effects of singing. Listen to the PRE interview. Contact Hairston.

A hiccup or campaign ender?francia

Pundits are debating the political repercussions of recent allegations of improper behavior by GOP hopeful Herman Cain, as well as a gaffe by Texas Gov. Rick Perry during the Republican presidential debates on Wednesday evening. ECU political science professor Peter Francia is an expert on politics and presidential elections. He can speak on the issues. Contact Francia.

Asteroid swings close by Earthjohnrummel

This week a large asteroid is expected to approach between the moon and the earth in the closest encounter experienced in three decades. The asteroid is about 1,300 feet across and should be traveling about 29,000 mph when it makes its closest approach Nov. 8.  ECU biology professor Dr. John Dr. Rummel is a former NASA senior scientist for astrobiology and director of the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy at ECU. He can speak about the event. Contact Rummel.  Read more about the asteroid.

Inactivity boosts cancer riskLucas_Carr_1

A new study indicates that sitting for long periods of time may increase a person's risk for cancer, even for those individuals who exercise regularly. ECU professor Dr. Lucas J. Carr in the Department of Kinesiology is an expert on physical activity and sedentary behaviors and can speak on the study results. Contact Carr.  Read article about the study.

Drop in the state's infant mortality ratetnewton

North Carolina's infant mortality rate dropped to the lowest rate ever recorded in 2010, falling from nearly eight deaths per 1,000 live births to seven. Despite the improvement, North Carolina still ranks 44th in the nation in infant mortality. Dr. Edward Newton, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at ECU's Brody School of Medicine, can speak on the factors that contribute to infant mortality and how deaths can be prevented. Contact Newton. Read News & Observer article on the falling mortality rate.

Student debtBill_Pratt7-168x191

President Barack Obama has unveiled a plan to provide relief for heavy student loan debt, which is also a frequent topic of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. ECU finance professor Bill Pratt is an expert on the personal finances of students and recent college graduates. He has authored several books that address the mistakes this group often makes with their financial decisions. Pratt can speak on issues related to student debt. Contact Pratt.  Read more about the President's plan in the News and Observer, on the White House blog.

October 2011

Iron Man 3 filming in Wilmington, N.C.Iron Man 3

Gov. Bev Perdue announced Thursday that Iron Man 3 starring Robert Downey Jr. will be filmed in Wilmington, bringing approximately $80 million into the state. ECU's James Kleckley, director of the Bureau of Business Research at ECU, is an expert on economic impact and can speak on the impact on eastern North Carolina. Contact KleckleyRead a Charlotte Observer story about the film announcement. Read about the announcement from Wilmington Star News. Read more about the movie.

Northern Lightscurtis

Northern lights, also called the Aurora Borealis, are normally not seen in the South, but because of solar storms the lights were visible in the Greenville area Monday night and may be seen again this week. Scott Curtis, associate professor in the Department of Geography and assistant director for Natural Hazards Research, is meteorology expert and can speak on the phenomenon. Read CNN news story or Watch CNN video on the lights.   Contact Curtis.

The end is here?mercer174_255

A California Christian group has declared that Oct. 21, 2011 is the date for the cataclysmic end of the world. The same group originally targeted May 21 for the world's end, causing global concern. ECU religious studies professor Dr. Calvin Mercer is an expert on religion and culture. He can speak on religious fundamentalism and on religion as factor in mental distress. Contact Mercer.

'Occupy Wall Street'francia

Demonstrations against economic inequality and corporate greed by the social protest movement Occupy Wall Street have spread from lower Manhattan into at least 25 cities in the United States. East Carolina University political science professor Dr. Peter L. Francia is an expert on social protest movements and can speak to media on this issue. Contact Francia. Read more on the Occupy Wall Street social protest movement.

Listeria outbreak, canteloupe recallthill

Federal health officials have issued a cantaloupe recall due to contamination that has led to at least 72 illnesses and up to 16 deaths. The contaminated fruit has resulted in outbreaks of Listeriosis, a serious food-borne infection. ECU environmental health sciences instructor William Hill, Department of Health Education and Promotion, is a specialist in food safety education, public health marketing and environmental health education. He can speak on food safety and sanitation issues. Contact Hill.

September 2011

They're big. They're biting.

In eastern North Carolina, they're most likely called "Skeeters," but regardless of the name, mosquito populations surge after rains like those brought by Hurricane Irene and the rain expected to hit the area this week. ECU environmental health sciences professor Alice Anderson  is an expert on mosquito control and diseases. She has posted an eastern North Carolina Mosquito Library online with detailed information about mosquito populations in the Southeast and the diseases they carry. View the library.

Palestinian bid for UN vote on statehood roshandel

Palestinian officials are campaigning for a United Nations vote that would recognize their statehood. The United States has spoken out against the recommendation, affirming traditional support for Israel. ECU political science professor Dr. Jalil Roshandel, an expert on international relations and the Middle East, can speak on the implications. Contact Roshandel.

Are vaccinations safe?Kitta

The public and political debate on vaccination safety and side effects has heated up with Michelle Bachman's recent statements questioning the safety of the HPV vaccine. Some parents refuse to vaccinate their children against sometimes lethal diseases, fearing the vaccines' effects. ECU English professor Andrea Kitta examines the beliefs and practices that surround the decision not to vaccinate in her upcoming book, "Vaccinations and Public Concern in History: Legend, Rumor, and Risk Perception."   Contact Kitta.

Same-sex Marriagewisdom

The N.C. House has agreed to let voters decide next May whether to ban same-sex marriage in the state. The proposal now goes to the Senate. ECU experts who may have input on the issue include social work professor Dr. Paige Averett, an expert on sexuality, lesbian and gay studies (Contact Averett) and Summer Wisdom, director of ECU's LGBT (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender) Resource Office (Contact Wisdom). 

Terror Threats, Homeland SecurityHamid-Kusha-2007-021

Officials have reported a credible threat for terrorism on U.S. soil, related to the 9/11 anniversary. ECU criminal justice professor Dr. Hamid Kusha is an expert in international terrorism and homeland security. Contact Kusha.

Nature, obesity linkjilcott

Research by ECU public health professor Stephanie Jilcott, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, has indicated a connection between lower levels of obesity and an environment that includes natural features such as hills and lakes. Jilcott's research has been quoted in numerous media outlets including the Times of India, eMax Health, News-Medical-net andBioScholar News. Contact Jilcott.

Fish Kill in Greenville's Tar Rivertwo

ECU biology professors Dr. Anthony Overton and Dr. Joseph  Luczkovich are experts in fish ecology and can speak to the media about the recent fish kill in the Tar River following Hurricane Irene. A Luczkovich article examined hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen in the water) as the result of hurricane rains and its effects on fish. Read the article. Click on each professor's name for contact information.

August 2011

Hurricanes, Atlantic Coastal Stormscurtis

ECU professor Scott Curtis is an expert on Atlantic coastal storms and tropical meteorology. He is an associate professor in geography and assistant director for National Hazards Research. Read more...

Earthquake felt in Greenvilleearthquake

ECU geology professor Eric Horsman can speak to media about the earthquake felt in eastern North Carolina Aug. 23 at approximately 1:50 p.m. According to the U.S. Geological Survey web site, the 5.8 magnitude quake was centered northwest of Richmond, Va. E-mail or call 252-328-5265.

College debt and financial behaviors

Many ECU students returning to Greenville for the 2011 fall semester will rely heavily on student loans and other debt instruments to finance their college experience. 

Drs. Intae Yoon in the ECU School of Social Work and Bryce Jorgensen (Child Development and Family Relations) have published research on the finances of college students.

Jorgensen has researched the influence parents have on students' financial attitudes and behaviors, indicating that parents often fail to handle this issue well and that students suffer when money matters are treated as taboo subjects in the home. Read more about Jorgensen's research.

Yoon has researched the burden of debt incurred by social work students. According to Yoon, cross-sectional data reveal that credit cards (CCs) were more commonly used than any private educational loans by social work graduates in 2009 to finance their baccalaureate or master’s level degrees (n = 560). Upon graduation, 10.3% of the respondents owed at least $10,000 to CC companies. Students from low socio-economic classes, non-traditional students with dependents, divorced or widowed students, or community college attendees were more CC-debt ridden. Those who received their CC from family members (about $2,400 on average) have about $2,000 less debt than those who received the cards from off-campus mailing, $2,200 less than those who opened CC accounts from on-campus vendors, and $3,000 less than those who created CCs from multiple sources. Existing financial literacy classes appear to be ineffective in reducing their CC debt according to the data.

Contact information:

Bryce L. Jorgensen, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Child Development and Family Relations
College of Human Ecology
East Carolina University
Ph. 252-737-2074

Dr. Intae Yoon
Assistant Professor
School of Social Work
College of Human Ecology
East Carolina University
Rivers 220
Greenville, North Carolina 27858-4353

Yoon   Jorgensen
Dr. Intae Yoon
Dr. Bryce Jergensen


Gangs and gang violencebloss

ECU Department of Criminal Justice chair Dr. William Bloss is an expert on gangs and gang violence, which has been the focus of the Greenville Police Department since a recent crime wave in Greenville. He is available to speak on camera. View more details on Bloss, including contact information.